With only one day remaining until the EIWA tournament, No. 11 ranked junior Steve Anceravage has his sights set on a conference title. After a 2006-07 campaign that has seen him rack up 16 wins to only four losses, the Bloomsburg, Penn., native looks to secure his first-ever in-season tournament championship while in a red singlet.
Ironically, Anceravage’s strengths suggest that tournaments, as opposed to dual matches, are where he excels. However, despite finishing in third place or better in all of the tournaments he’s wrestled in while at Cornell, Anceravage has yet to stand on the highest tier of the podium at any of them. All things look to change this Saturday night in East Stroudsburg, Penn., where Anceravage will compete for a tournament championship and a possible top-10 seeding at this year’s nationals in Detroit, Mich.
[img_assist|nid=21773|title=Look both ways|desc=Junior Steve Anceravage (right), seen taking down Princeton’s Aaron Casp during Cornell’s 56-0 victory on Feb. 10, is looking for his first in-season tournament championship at Cornell.|link=none|align=left|width=94|height=100]
“I’m looking forward to finally getting to the top of the podium,” Anceravage said. “It’s funny because I like dual meets better, but I have greater success at tournaments. I like to weigh in, wrestle and get it over with. Unfortunately, my worst match is usually my first one. When I wrestle multiple times in one day, I tend to wrestle better.”
After finishing last season with a 25-10 record, Anceravage has picked up right where he left off wrestling at 165 pounds. After being heavily recruited by a number of different schools, Anceravage has lived up to the hype of being one of the more naturally gifted wrestlers on the team. Now, as the countdown clock ticks down to nationals inside the Friedman Wrestling Center, Anceravage looks to take the next step — earning All-America honors in Detroit. If Anceravage does finish in the top-8 at nationals, not many members of the Cornell camp will be surprised.
“Steve’s the kind of kid who’s worked hard this year and could easily be an All-American in a very tough weight class,” said assistant coach Tyler Baier. “He’s just as good as any of the guys ranked above him, so it’s just a matter of going into the postseason and getting the job done. He has so much natural talent that it’s just a matter of him going out and wrestling smart.”
If there have been any negatives to the Policy Analysis and Management major’s season, it’s that he’s been unable to defeat the higher ranked wrestlers in his path — presumably No. 2 ranked Eric Tannenbaum of Michigan, No. 6 ranked Mike Patrovich of Hofstra and No. 8 ranked Deonte Penn of Edinboro. The silver lining is that the Tannenbaum match was a one-point loss in Anceravage’s first action of the season. In regards to the other two matches, Anceravage was leading both bouts before being reversed for pins while trying to keep pressing the pace of each match.
“He’s a great thrower,” Baier said. “It’s a high-risk, high-reward move and you can catch yourself rolling over when you land if you aren’t careful. When you are ahead in those matches like Steve was, sometimes it comes down to trying to secure the win. As a coach, you can’t teach to stall and slow everything down because you encourage your wrestlers to keep on attacking and try for bonus points.”
Despite Anceravage’s preference to utilize the throw, the junior has made an effort late in the season to keep his game balanced by focusing on leg attacks — something that should pay dividends.
“When I was in New York City, some of the old alumni, guys like Dan Miracola [’06] and Mike Mormile [’06], were telling me that every time they see me, I tend to wrestle more and more like [head] coach [Rob] Koll,” Anceravage said. “Koll’s a master at upper body technique, and I’ve been noticing recently that I’ve been trying to force the throw a little bit. It made me a little one dimensional, so I’ve abandoned it all week in practice and really tried to work on my hand fighting and shots. Those are essentially the techniques that are going to win those close matches at nationals.”
Given Anceravage’s season and the fact that he’s finally healthy after a season full of knee problems, a broken nose and wrist injuries, all that stands in his way of All-America honors and a possible top-5 finish at nationals is the increased pressure of the postseason and the bright lights of both East Stroudsburg and Detroit. Given Anceravage’s experience and ability, his environment should have no factor on his results.
“It’s sort of like that scene in Hoosiers where the coach takes his team into the visiting gym and measures out all the lines of the court,” Koll said. “He tells all his kids that the lines are exactly the same as the ones at the home gymnasium. When it comes down to it, the mat is still the same size in the postseason. Whether you are wrestling a dual meet, at EIWAs or at nationals, the environment doesn’t change the outcome of a match. It’s just a matter of wrestling just like you have all season long. That’s why our kids, including Steve, are going to do very well [in Detroit].”